There is a quote from the Tao Te Ching- “Focus on the fruit- not the flower”. I have been struggling to not only figure out what my “fruit” and “flower” is but even try to understand the nature of the “fruit” and the “flower”.
As a full-time pro musician I am in fact a self-employed individual aspiring to be a small-business owner. Based on the assumption that I’m a pro (as in careeer) musician my “fruit” could be construed as financial or artistic.
As a grown-up (!) human being with responsibilities to not only myself but others as well my “fruit” should most certainly be financial. In short my “fruit” should be money. Speaking for myself based on my own feelings and experiences I can honestly say that one of the best feelings that I know is having the bills paid, a full stomach and a full tank of gas. Notice that “artistic satisfaction” wasn’t the first thing that I mentioned.
I have come to realize that the issue of “artistic satisfaction” has become secondary to “financial success”. I believe that when the two meet successfully- good music and good business- I might have identified my personal definition of “fruit”. (That is not how I would describe the way thibgs have turned out, however)
Which leads to defining the “flower”. What is the “flower” for me? I would say “that which seems like a good idea but really doesn’t work out for whatever reason”. Short term actions that look good in the short term but don’t really lead me to my ultimate goals. Things may not work out due to a number of factors including: 1. It wasn’t a good idea to begin with 2. The idea wasn’t pursued with the vigor required to make it successful 3. The idea was not pursued in a thoughtful and intelligent way 4. Poor timing such as a stock market crash or the end of the world or 5. It simply didn’t work out.
So let’s dig in a little more on the subject. For many years and in many circumstances I was SURE what is was that I was doing, did the work that I thought that I needed to do to make my goal happen and pursued my goals with what I considered to be unfailing vigor and crystal-clear clarity. I have since come to realize that there are other factors involved in achieving goals and high levels of success that can be somewhat subjective in nature, difficult to identify and essential to the actual attainment of said goals.
It took me 25 years in the music business to start questioning myself and my judgement and I don’t feel that it’s a bad thing. My time of retrospection and reevaluation will hopefully lead me to greater happiness and success. By documenting my process I also hope to share my thoughts and experiences to perhaps give others some ideas that may help them to achieve their goals as well.
My dilemmas are manifold- including my choice of focus for my musical performance. I would like to be able to fall in love again with playing and pursue it with vim and vigor. Where’s my heart? The bass guitar. What’s unique about me? Warr Guitar. What always puts food on the table? Guitar and singing. Even as I type this each circumstance pulls my heart in one way or another. I’m in fact listening to the Marcus Miller station on Pandora as I type this. I enjoy listening to a good bass player more than most anything which may his version of Miles Davis’ “So What” is doing it for me right now.
The nice thing is that I have choices and there is no “wrong” answer per se. Identifying my goals- what my heart wants and what I want and need as a person has been my primary focus. Being a “Rockstar” is still what I want to do- finding the vehicle that’s going to get me there is my dilemma. So the basic choices: Bass, guitar, Warr Guitar, sing. What is most natural? Bass. What has been the most profitable? Guitar and singing. What do I like to do? (where is my heart?) Bass.
I have been driving my wife crazy with my ruminations and vascillations. I admit that I “make up my mind” one day and may change my mind 5 minutes later for reasons that not only seem- but are perfectly reasonable in my head. There is no “bad” route- there’s just one that’s going to be best for me. I believe to achieve the level of success that I seek more focus will be needed in order to acquire the skills and acumen required to operate at a highly professional level- part of my goal set.
So my primary goals:
To play great music for a living. (qualification- be good at what I do and enjoy it, play with others that I admire, make a lot of money)
- Warr Guitar
Favorite option from a “like to do” point of view- probably playing bass and singing.
Most historically profitable- playing guitar and singing.
“Coolest”- Warr Guitar.
Though I like to write, produce, etc. I wouldn’t consider those activities to be great passions like playing bass has been (though I would put writing songs a close third behind singing).
Whatever I do I would also like to teach, write, produce, perform, etc. using that instrument as a springboard and a primary focus for my activities.
(Update 5/1/2017- I am playing bass, singing and writing songs with The Funk Truck. I am using the guitar to help write tunes.)